Childhood tantrums are awful to deal with. Usually, a child will begin to throw tantrums to get attention and what they desire around the age of two. Usually, they grow out of the stage within a year or so.
However, some don't.
You can help your child move past this stage and become more mindful of how their behavior impacts others with a few simple techniques.
Don't worry, these are not advanced techniques, and they're perfectly appropriate for young children.
Why Children Throw Temper Tantrums
It all starts from when they're babies. A baby cries to get its mother's attention to fulfill a base need. This could be for food, changing diapers, warmth, or just comfort.
As children grow, they become more aware of other desires. Perhaps they want a toy for entertainment, distraction, or to explore.
When children don't have better, healthier ways to express their desires, they resort to crying, kicking, and other behaviors that caught their mother's attention when they were younger.
But, as children grow, this behavior can become annoying, embarrassing, and sometimes dangerous.
Temper tantrums can last a few seconds to several minutes to upwards of an hour. It depends on the type of feedback the child gets and what they are seeking.
What happens at the end of the tantrum and after the tantrum makes a huge difference in whether the child learns a behavioral pattern that supports their health and wellness or coping technique that provides instant gratification.
Unlike babies, toddlers are more difficult to appease. Once the need for the baby gets met, they will stop their tantrum and forget about it. However, toddlers learn that their tantrum produces results. The results are what determines if another tantrum will happen or not.
Let's take a look at how you can start teaching your child to move past the tantrum stage. This is only one technique and may not be appropriate for all children.
In the mid-1900s, there was a movement that allowed babies to cry until they tired themselves out. They called it self-soothing, and it was supposed to teach babies that they could trust in their caregivers and they did not need to cry.
Unfortunately, what it taught was a mistrust of adults and an unhealthy reliance on themselves.
The current research shows that addressing a baby's needs as soon as possible grows a stronger connection between the child and the parent and helps form healthy relationships later in life.
As a child grows, they need to be taught independence. And as your baby grows into the toddler stage, they become more aware of the world around them and more aware of what they want and need.
This is where true self-soothing can come in.
The basic premise of soothing is to help them understand what they truly desire, want, and need.
As an adult, you may find yourself irritated or angry by something someone does. Rather than expressing that anger unhealthy at other people (such as violence), you can look inward to discover what's happening within us and then react more appropriately. Most people do this without thinking about it.
Perhaps you're angry because the other person disappointed you or did something in contradiction to what you requested. The 'why' of your emotions gives you a choice in how to react and respond.
For children, it's the same technique, although they are unable to do the work themselves. As parents, it's your job to lead them through until they are old enough to understand. They may be teenagers or even young adults before they are old enough to understand, so this is a long process.
The simple self soothing technique is as simple as follows:
- "You sound upset, are you hurt?" (establishes pain and injury will be attended)
- "Can you take a deep breath and tell me what you want right now?" (shows you care about their needs)
- "Why do you want that?" (begins the process of self-control and patience)
The reason we ask these questions is to get to the real reason for the tantrum. It allows the children to start identifying their feelings and shows it is okay to express their feelings in a healthy way. This goes a long way to empowering women and creating emotionally secure, mature men.
This type of exercise helps your child learn their emotions and understand all emotions are acceptable, even the sad and frightening ones. As your child gets older, you can start going into ways to express those emotions without a tantrum.
As your child grows, they learn to express their emotions in a healthy way, be calm through difficult times, and trust in you to take care of their needs during tantrums.